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North Carolina AG sues company for running "illegal debt-relief scheme"

 NC Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in Pitt County about the latest in the opioid settlement.
Ryan Shaffer
Public Radio East
Attorney General and Democrat candidate for governor Josh Stein spoke to Pitt County leaders in Greenville Monday about the latest in opioid settlements.

North Carolina’s attorney general has joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and six other attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against a company accused of running an illegal debt-relief scheme.

Attorney General Josh Stein said Strategic Financial Solutions collected hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal fees from unsuspecting people who wanted help with their debts.

Since at least 2016, Stein said SFS has run a scheme that appears to help people by reaching reduced settlements with their creditors. However, they are told they don’t qualify for a loan and are pitched a debt settlement program instead.

The consumers are then referred to a “law firm” that typically has only one or two licensed attorneys to handle thousands of clients, and the attorneys perform little work.

The A-G said SFS’ customers are told to stop paying their creditors and make monthly payments to a “trust account” instead – and then collect exorbitant advance fees, which makes it almost impossible for customers to save enough money to settle their debts.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to eastern North Carolina in 2019 to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of kiddo cuddling, reading, and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.